With a mix of elearning modules, quizzes, podcasts, on-demand and face-to-face webinars, Parallel Project Training delivers market-leading blended learning courses for project management professionals.
Established in 2009, Parallel Project Training is one of the UK’s leading project management training providers, delivering courses for the Association for Project Management qualifications. They were the first company to introduce a blended learning approach for APM.
Co-founder Paul Naybour recognised the need for a flexible approach to learning and a range of study options that would enable project managers to study in a way that suited them.
With a background in the management of rail and infrastructure projects, and ample expertise leading training programs in the rail and transportation industry, Naybour also acts as the company’s Business Development Director, delivers training courses to project organisations such as the Ministry of Defense and Network Rail, and has been actively involved in developing their range of podcasts and webinars.
“This approach has enabled corporations and individuals to develop a professional project management capability at a time and place that suits them, and using the methods best suited to their learning style,” Naybour confides.
Why blended learning benefits corporate learning
The learner’s journey begins at registration. Attendees receive a pre-course survey and a printed study guide. These steps are designed to gauge their current level of knowledge and prepare them for the course proper.
Next, they must complete 8 eLearning modules, which take place in the Moodle LMS. The student has the option of listening to a podcast or watching an on-demand video. The modules are followed by quizzes to assess their learning and improve knowledge retention.
Following the eLearning modules, they attend a 2-day, face-to-face or live online course.
After the live session, students are take a mock exam in the LMS. It provides automatic scoring, and gives them the opportunity for another attempt. This is to prepare them for the real examination towards their APM qualification. The examination takes place on location, or through remote proctoring.
The experience of success
Naybour has had excellent feedback from customers on the use of Moodle for hosting their elearning. “People find it easy and intuitive to use”. When Parallel ran a survey with their course attendees to gauge their experience with online learning, 100% of respondents stated the course was engaging.
Naybour reflects: “We always strive to make our training interesting and engaging, with trainers who know their stuff. It’s great to see this has translated to online training. Many people fear an online class will be dull and boring, but it’s great to see that that’s not the experience of our delegates.”
Naybour shares some of Parallel’s insights for delivering successful blended learning:
- Parallel supports their attendees from the moment they register. From the moment attendees register, they can access content including self-assessments and practice exams. For live online webinars, to cultivate a successful online learning environment, Parallel provides comprehensive information to make sure they succeed at getting started. If all else fails, they’ll talk people through the set-up process over the phone to ensure that no one is left behind. 1:1 tutoring is also available for those who need additional learning support before taking the exam.
- A lot of thought went into their live online setup. From the use of good quality headsets and webcams at eye level, to lighting and ensuring trainers are well presented. Webinars are highly interactive and engaging, combining slides, quizzes, discussion boards, animation, video clips, live screen capture and “whatever else can make the subject come alive”. They schedule a lot of breaks in which attendees will be asked to go away and complete activities, just like you would in a classroom.
- They’ve made efforts in developing content for blended learning. Digital and physical learning materials are used to support different learning preferences, reinforce outcomes and improve knowledge retention.
- In terms of the type of content they offer, their advice to other training providers is “look at what your competitors are doing, and think about how you can compete. Focus on niche content. Choose a subject-matter expert as the presenter who is comfortable speaking live on camera and knows their subject well enough to answer any questions that come up”.
Parallel’s technology choice
In September, 2019, Parallel decided they needed a complete website redesign and a training management system to handle their course management, and consequently engaged Arlo for a custom website build. Because Parallel uses the Moodle LMS, they use the Moodle plugin with the Arlo TMS. The plugin allows registrants to automatically receive login details to access the modules. Any results or tracked activity is synced back into Arlo for Parallel staff to monitor and assess.
The Arlo + Moodle solution has given Parallel the resilience to adapt to changing environments. And Paul says the implementation of Arlo has automated processes, moving them entirely away from paper bookings and saving them around £50,000 GBP annually in administrative costs. They have also seen a 19% increase in registrations, which Paul says is due to a more simple and user-friendly course sign-up process.